What’s New, What’s Cool on the Slopes
Everybody loves new. New snow, new gear, new terrain; the best days on skis typically include some element of new. But new is simply not enough these days at Lake Tahoe resorts; if it’s going to impress the latest generation of skiers and snowboarders, it better be cool, too.
Toward this end, the resorts continue to invest millions of dollars in ongoing improvements, many of which have instantly improved the guest experience in Tahoe. Over the last five years, the resorts have collectively spent more than $100 million dollars on new high-speed chairlifts, convenient mid-mountain lodges, extensive base area renovations and VIP services and amenities. If you haven’t been to Tahoe in the last decade, it’s time to experience the new, improved and very cool Tahoe.
The region is coming off one of the longest seasons in recent memory with last season’s “Godzilla” El Niño delivering epic conditions for nearly seven months. The resorts are hoping to capitalize on this momentum by opening earlier than normal this season in early November (weather and conditions permitting).
Traveling to the Lake Tahoe slopes will also be easier this season thanks to new non-stop air service from gateway air markets such as New York, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and Orange County. Better yet, present your boarding pass at the lift ticket window for “ski free the same day you fly” promotions at participating resorts.
We’ve done the work for you and please below find the most compelling new developments taking shape at the Ski Lake Tahoe resorts this season.
Heavenly Mountain Resort
The recent opening of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in South Lake Tahoe has spurred a wave of new development surrounding the Village at Heavenly including the Chateau, more than 30,000 square feet of new storefronts and restaurants adjacent to the resort’s gondola. This positive growth trend has spilled over into the neighboring streets where mom and pop hotels are being transformed into luxury, boutique properties including a new Joi De Vivre resort set to open this season. Heavenly’s 2.4 mile-long gondola connects this bustling village to the adrenaline-filled action found at Adventure Peak, the site of the resort’s award-winning “Unbuckle at Tamarack” daily après parties complete with the Heavenly Angels and a custom-built mobile DJ snowcat. New this season, guests can customize their day on the slopes with Heavenly’s “Design Your Own Experience” private lessons or swing by a new on-mountain kiosk to book a lesson on the fly. The resort is also reimagining the definition of “work hard, play hard” by creating an on-mountain shared workspace for remote professionals who dream of taking a few turns before hopping on a conference call in their ski and snowboard boots.
Homewood Mountain Resort
Homewood is excited to highlight its new snowcat adventures this season with 2016-17 marking its first full season of operations. Reserved for only ten skiers or snowboarders each day, these guided excursions take guests to the top of Ellis Peak in an enclosed snowcat providing access to over 750 acres of wide open bowls, perfectly spaced trees and private powder stashes. With laps of 1,800 vertical feet and jaw-dropping views of Lake Tahoe, this experience is a must-do for powder junkies and thrill-seekers alike. The resort will also be welcoming new executive chef Ben Deinken, Jr. to manage the culinary experience at its lakefront West Shore Café and Inn. Expect a new menu of locally-sourced, inspired dishes, a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list, hand-crafted signature cocktails and complimentary s’mores for the little ones. Savvy skiers and snowboarders can also take advantage of Homewood’s three-pack lift ticket for only $59 per day with no blackout dates.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort
The resort continues its improvements and resort-wide upgrades ensuring the mountain opens on time even after a legendary Kirkwood storm. Home to some of the steepest and deepest terrain in Tahoe, the resort’s flagship instructional program, Expedition: Kirkwood, will be expanding its offerings to include daily mountain guide service, backcountry awareness courses, AIARE certification and private snowcat tours. Designed to expand the boundaries of mountain exploration, E:K’s popular Discovery Series focuses on boosting the confidence and skills of intermediates by exposing them to the unique and challenging terrain found only at Kirkwood. New this season, Kirkwood and its sister Tahoe resorts will be debuting EpicMix Time™, an expansion of Vail Resorts’ award-winning EpixMix app. The new functionality will allow guests to access up-to-the-minute chairlift and gondola wait times across Kirkwood, Heavenly and Northstar. The resort will also be partnering with GoPro to host the second annual #KirkwoodDeep Riders Poll Awards on November 12th in San Francisco.
Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe
Just 25 minutes from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Mt. Rose is Lake Tahoe’s gateway resort and holds the distinction of boasting the region’s highest base elevation. Taking advantage of its high altitude, the resort has more than doubled its snowmaking capacity, amplifying its snow-making systems to shoot for an earlier than normal opening day on Halloween. Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe also invested over $1.2 million last season in on-mountain upgrades and trail improvements geared toward first-timers and beginners including four new trails accessed off the newly named Wizard Chairlift and the opening of the Enchanted Forest Family Zone. Expert skiers and snowboarders who have not yet tackled the legendary Chutes at Mt. Rose, over 200 acres of double-black diamond terrain with slope angles of close to fifty degrees, need to follow this year’s storm track to catch the resort on a powder day.
Northstar truly embodies the spirit of laidback California luxury. The resort has invested more than $30 million over the last five years in extensive on-mountain upgrades including the Promised Land Express high-speed quad chairlift and the 17,000 square foot Zephyr Lodge, together providing easier access to Northstar’s most popular terrain. New for 2016-17, Northstar will offer an elevated winter vacation experience with its Platinum Access program. Amenities include a member’s lounge, access to exclusive lift lines, Primo mountain guide service, on-snow Champagne celebrations and valet ski/snowboard storage. Between laps on perfectly-groomed runs, guests can check out a new Thai food truck at mid-mountain as well as Frites, a cabana located within The Village serving up gourmet fries and craft brews. Northstar’s heightened culinary experiences will also include Mountain Table, a monthly dinner series that pairs locally-sourced food with regional wineries and breweries served at the resort’s mountain-top Zephyr Lodge. Adding to the adventure, diners enjoy a twilight gondola ride to mid-mountain where they are chauffeured via a 36-person sleigh.
Home to the Golden Girls, Olympic gold medalists Jamie Anderson, Hannah Teter and Maddie Bowman, Sierra continues to stay at the forefront of terrain park and halfpipe design thanks to its ongoing collaboration with the best park architects in the business, Snow Park Technologies. New this winter, Sierra will leverage this snow sculpting expertise to expand its designated beginner zones that feature SMART TERRAIN®, man-made features that rapidly accelerates the learning curve. These sculpted banks and curves force newcomers to initiate turns helping beginning skiers and snowboarders gain confidence, balance and control. The resort has also revamped its resort-wide menus to source sustainable, healthier food options including locally inspired dishes at the Solstice Eatery. In hopes of making the resort more accessible to destination travelers, Sierra will be opening a new remote location at the intersection of Highway 50 and Lake Tahoe Boulevard allowing guests to pre-purchase lift tickets, lessons and rentals.
Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will be welcoming the Audi FIS World Cup tour, the world’s premier international alpine ski racing competition, to its storied slopes in March for the first time in over 50 years. This will be the perfect opportunity to showcase more than $70 million in recent upgrades completed as part of the resort’s “Renaissance”, a five-year overhaul that brought new chairlifts, an iconic yoga studio and the world’s first ski-in/ski-out Starbucks to the mountains. The resort will be spending an additional $3.6 million this season as Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows becomes the first regional resort to utilize Gazex Inertia Exploder technology, a remotely controlled avalanche mitigation system that will allow mountain operation teams to open terrain more efficiently after large storms. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will also be unveiling a new app powered by SkiLynx offering enhanced functionality to view real-time chairlift wait times, pre-purchase lift tickets and use a dynamic “Quick Messages” system that auto-populates a user’s location into messages for easy communication with friends and family.